Mary Berry might be comfortably into her 80s now as she celebrates turning 84 but she has more energy and vitality than most 30 year olds. She’s still working on new series and trying new things – even taking to the stage at a festival to play drums for Rick Astley last summer! So what life lessons can we take from Mary to help live our best lives now and in the future?
Enjoy your food – but don’t go overboard
Having had a career based around food all her life – much of it indulgent and very moreish treats – keeping her slim figure all her life has been impressive to most of us! But Mary says it’s not a specific diet regime which works, just common sense about portion size and not taking in more than you are using up. “On the whole, I really watch calories. I always have a good meal in the evening with lots of vegetables and a smaller portion of meat or fish,” Mary explains. “I believe in a balanced diet, and because I’m ancient I don’t need an 8oz steak.”
And as she didn’t grow up in a snacking culture, picking at food all day doesn’t really make sense to Mary. “I don’t snack. If I’m at home, I might have a cup of tea with my husband with a piece of toast or a small piece of cake.” Mary is not one to deprive herself of treats but equally she aims for a little portion which she can really savour. “I’m not one to devour chocolates, but after supper I have a chocolate of some sort, perhaps one of those Lindt balls.” Plus Mary famously loves a glass of wine when she comes home and shuts the door on her day.
Keep your skin care simple
As a working mum who still has commitments to fulfil, spending time on beauty routines has not found a place in her life and she admits never well. She’s kept things simple over the years: “I use E45 from a big bottle!” she reveals. “My routine is very simple. I have never used face creams. I just use one foundation, one powder, one lipstick and that’s it. I don’t want expensive make up. Why bother?”
Mary feels comfortable in her own skin and isn’t worried about looking her age, “I’ve got wrinkles. That’s what happens when you get older. It doesn’t worry me,” she admits. And after spending time in hospital as a child with polio the idea of injectables and cosmetic procedures is a complete no-no for her,“I think surgeons should be saving lives rather than pulling faces about.”
You can keep in shape without the gym
Rushing around both working and being involved with the kids and grandkids has meant little time for Mary to sit around and she reckons you can stay fit and slim without ever entering a gym as long as you live an active life. “People say you have to exercise a lot to keep slim,’ she says. “Well, I would hate that. I play tennis and I garden and walk the dogs, but I’ve not stepped inside a gym since I was at school! Better in my mind to control what you eat, to enjoy wonderful food sensibly.’
Dress to suit your figure – not fashion
While she might not be particularly interested in beauty regimes, Mary loves fashion and has her own sense of style. “I do dress for myself, not to please a viewer or a reader,’ she explains. “But people know what I like, they’ve got to know my style and if I were to wear something out of the ordinary? Well, they would just know it wasn’t me, and I wouldn’t feel genuine.”
Mixing expensive and High Street pieces is something of a joy for Mary and those trademark jackets take pride of place in her wardrobe. “I’ve got an awful lot of them,’ she says. “Forty, or goodness, maybe 50 of them, many that I don’t wear. I had a lot of floral ones for Bake Off but I have now gone back to preferring the plain.” She loves mixing expensive and High Street pieces but says the secret of making your clothes look amazing is to alter items so they fit like a glove. She has a seamstress who lives in her village, Val, who adjusts nearly everything Mary buys. “As I am short, I will often have tops taken up, or shoulders of jackets narrowed. Val is simply wonderful.”
Finding her own style and sticking to it has stood Mary in good stead and she knows what works and what doesn’t, regardless of fashion trends. “I don’t much like to show my décolletage, and I am so conscious of my bat wings.” And when it comes to accessories she keeps things simple – and classy as she is still wearing a favourite Gucci belt she’s worn since she was 21.
And while she’s not a slave to fashion, she does like to keep up-to-date with trends and interpret them in her own way. “I think most people my age go for something rather boring and safe, whereas I go for lively and safe!”